ABAC review set for 2022

After record levels of activity in 2021, ABAC will be undertaking a major review of the Code in 2022.

ABAC announced in a report released today that it will be incorporating a public consultation in its review process this year, recognising the need to stay relevant to the evolving landscape of alcohol advertising.

The review follows a survey undertaken in October 2021 into public perceptions of alcohol marketing, to ensure the code and the ABAC adjudication panel’s judgements were in-keeping with community expectations and public standards.

ABAC also revisited the issue of age controls on social media, which was prompted by a Cancer Council survey of social media accounts of Carlton & United Breweries, Lion and Coopers last year.

ABAC warned that the implementation of age gates would be monitored throughout this year.

In 2021 the ABAC pre-vetting service saw a 38 per cent increase in pre-vetting applications. In the last quarter of 2021, 999 instances of marketing were reportedly pre-vetted by an ABAC panel. Of those, 126 were rejected.

During the year, complaints to ABAC also increased 35 per cent. According to its latest report, 55 complaints were made in the last quarter of 2021, one complaint was withdrawn, and a number did not raise Code issues, so 41 determinations were made in total. 17 were upheld and 24 were dismissed.

Digital marketing continues to be an increasing source of both pre-vetting and complaints activity “reflecting its widespread use” by consumers and marketers. According to figures at the end of last year, digital marketing complaints accounted for 59 per cent of the complaints received last year.

The vast majority of breaches last year were promptly remedied with only one breach referred to the relevant Liquor Licensing authority for investigation due to noncompliance. The action resulted from a landmark agreement with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

ABAC said it has responded to these trends with increased training initiatives, and, according to the watchdog, its training has been completed by 450 alcohol marketing, agency and media staff over the year.

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